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Staying safe while boating this year

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Even though the weather is still dreary and cold, it is in fact early May. That means we are entering the warmer months of the year—a time when many people enjoy taking boats out onto the water.

I went on a trip to learn how to stay safe while boating. Deputy Sheriff Michael Vasquez from the Bonneville County Sheriff's Department took me on a boating ride-along on Gem Lake in Idaho Falls. I got to experience the fun of boating first-hand, but also learned there are a lot of things to look out for.

Vasquez says the water levels in the area are especially high from all the rain we've been getting lately.

"We're seeing a lot of loose debris [and] trash. Everything is entering into the river because of the high flow, and it's creating a lot of problems, especially if you’re gonna be running a jet boat or a prop boat,” he said. “We really want to make sure that we're not out here boating on the river at this time of year."

Debris isn't the only problem that comes from high water levels. You might have trouble fitting a boat under a bridge.

"We've got to go nice and slow,” Vasquez said to me as we approached a bridge. “And some of our sonar equipment here on top doesn't like to hit the concrete.”

Vasquez says no matter how good a swimmer you are, you need to wear a life jacket while out on the water. He also strongly believes boat owners should take boat safety classes, which the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation offers for free.

"We figure out what you got to have for equipment, what you need to have for safety equipment, how to navigate in bad weather, what to do in bad weather, what to do in case of emergencies, if your boat does capsize or if you go into the water, how to reboard your boat."

You can find those free classes HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Noah Farley

Noah is a reporter for Local News 8.


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